12 Facts About RV Slide Outs You Need to Know

RVs tend to be a bit on the small side in spite of their large looks. Slide outs create extra space for you and your family. When you use them you can almost feel like you are at home and not always bumping elbows in close quarters.

One of the most desired and sought after slide out section is the bedroom. That is because RVs and trailers have a reputation for possessing small bedrooms. Having extra space in the bedroom really helps ease tensions that arise in RV life.

To learn more facts about side outs, just continue to read our article. It is filled with the information you need to know. Understanding the slide out feature helps you find the right RV for you and your family.

What is an RV Slide Out?

Slide outs were first invented in the 1990s. RV makers provided one slide out in a unit and when its popularity took off, they continued to make more and added to their over all width and length.

All a slide out is really, is a separate section of your RV that slides outward providing you with more living space. That little extra space can mean the difference between a happy marriage and one filled with strife and stress.

There are two types of slide outs available. One is hydraulic powered while the other is powered electrically. Both systems come with their fair share of challenges and you do have to be more vigilant when you have a couple of these in your RV.

The two main issues you have to make sure of when you have an RV with one or more slide outs. First, they need to be working properly when you buy the RV and second, you have the space to use them at the different campgrounds or RV parks you visit.

How do RV Slide Outs Work

When you want to use your slide out, if all is working well, there should really be no problem. With the electric version, you need to make sure you have enough electricity flowing through your RV to get the motor working.

Also, you should make sure any bearings you have are well greased. Once those two items are done, you just start the motor and use the control panel to move the section out. Electric operated slide outs are gear driven and are usually found on smaller lighter sections.

If they are not overloaded then you should not have a problem. The hydraulic version usually found on the larger and heavier versions use one motor or pump to move more than one slide out into position.

This version is more complex mechanically than the electrical one. Both systems have their positive and negative aspects but their main duty is to simply move the slide out in or out either by pushing a button or hand pumping.

RV Slide vs no Slide: What is Best?

In terms or problems, hassles and other issues, the RV without the slide out option is probably best. There are just so many things that can go wrong when using a slide out motor.

The question that you need to answer is, ‘is the extra space worth the extra time and expense, along with extra maintenance, worth it?’ For some people, that answer is yes. They do not like being cramped in a small RV space, and as large as a Class A RV is, it is still small in comparison to homes with yards.

Other people do not think that the extra money it costs, the maintenance and time are worth the benefit that you get when using a slide out. You also have to keep in mind fuel economy as slide out equipped rigs are going to be heavier than those RV rigs

Plus you may not have the extra storage space you can get with a non-slide out equipped RV.

Are RV Slide Outs a Problem?

They can be. If you find the ideal camping situation and every thing works like it should, then slide outs are not a problem. They will add to your comfort and provide you with lots of extra living space making RV vacations more enjoyable.

But when reality strikes, slide outs can be a real problem. With electric powered units you can have issues with the motor, the gears, a lack of electricity or they blow a circuit or two. Among other things.

The hydraulic system is not perfect either. You can develop an unseen leak in the hydraulic lines that drains your hydraulic fluid. Plus, the pump or motor may malfunction. Or you may have a problem with a valve and so on.

The final situation where slide outs may become a problem is when you are in a campground, Box store parking lot or RV park and there is not enough space. You can’t use your slide out because you will be encroaching on others, some of whom may have slide outs of their own and employ them because they were there first.

How Far do RV Slide Outs Extend

On average slide outs can extend between 2 and 3 feet out from the normal sides of your RV. If you have slide outs on both sides of your rig, then you can figure on an 8 foot wide RV extending to 12 to 14 feet wide when using your slide outs.

There may be some that slide out further and give you up to 16 feet of interior space. When you plan on going to an RV park or campground, make sure the parking or campsites have enough width and that both locations allow you to use your slide outs.

How Wide are RV Slide Outs

Depending on the manufacturer and the class of RV, you can get anywhere from 1 to 3 feet of extra width by using a slide out. If you have them on both sides of your vehicle, then you would get anywhere from 2 to 6 feet of extra space.

It may not sound like much, but even those few extra feet pay off big when you are larger than average size. A few feet can also make a difference in the comfort zone as well as allowing you to relax better and get more enjoyment out of your RV.

How Much Weight Can an RV Slide Hold

This is one of the stranger facts about RV and RV manufacturers. There seems to be no weight capacity listed anywhere telling potential RV owners how much weight they can put on a slide out.

The rule of thumb, done by experience, says that adding an extra 1200 pound to the slide out will not hurt it at all. Some people have put heavy furniture on their slide outs, others have their appliances there and still they have no problem.

But here is the twist. One of the negative aspects to the electrical slide out version says that these units will not work well, if at all, when they are overloaded. Without a true weight capacity, it is hard to tell you have overloaded the slide out.

That is until the slide out stops working. Then you have the problem of trying to figure out how much weight you have to remove so it is not overloaded. Also, RVs are heavy, some weigh 19,000 pounds and many weigh a lot more.

It stands to reason that an extra 1200-1500 pounds on the slide out will not affect the RV at all. Just try to keep the weight off when you are opening and closing the slide out to be on the safe side.

Are RV Slide Outs Reliable

For the most part, the answer to that question is, yes they are reliable. When in top condition, they work as designed and provide you with that extra space you want when in closed quarters.

The only time their reliability comes into question is when there is something wrong. But slide outs are not perfect and they are made by imperfect people. There are going to be problems that will make you question their reliability.

If you do proper maintenance on your slide outs then they should be reliable and you can use them as often as you like. But again, since machinery , gears, motors are involved there are a number of issues that can arise throughout your ownership that makes them an unreliable feature.

Just remember it won’t be the slide out’s fault, if they do not work properly.

Do RV Slide Outs Leak?

Yes they can but the majority of the leaks may come through the seals. Now the condition of the seals may be one source of the leak. They may have become damaged, worn out due to use, weather damaged and so on. In this case water will find a way inside.

Also, the seals may not have been installed properly. This would allow water to get inside quite easily. Another issue that allow water leaks to take place through slide outs is if your RV is not leveled correctly.

Leveling your RV helps maintain the slide outs and keep them in top shape. One final leak source is all the debris, dirt,leaves, and soon that get inside your slide out when you do not have or use the slide out awning.

This issue will damage seals and other parts of your slide out making it easier for water to get inside your RV.

How Does an RV Slide Lock Work

A slide out lock is designed to keep you or some unauthorized person from activating the slide out mechanism and accidentally open the slide out while you are in motion. They are a needed safety feature but one that doe snot have 100% support from experienced RV owners.

Some owners feel these are an essential part of good RVing. Others feel that these slide out locks are not necessary and they should not be a part of the RV design. Some manufacturers do install slide out locks on some of their models. But not all of them.

The key to using a slide out lock is to remove them before you try to extend your slide out. If you don’t, you know what will happen. The repair costs will not make you happy

If you want to make your own and save a little money, just click this link and scroll down to the slide out safety lock section. You will get instructions for one type of slide out lock there.

How to Get an RV Slide In

There will be times when your slide out becomes stuck and it is hard to move back in so you can get on your way. One way to avoid this situation is to make sure you have done proper maintenance on the gears, motor, etc.

It only takes a few minutes to examine the components and see what needs to be done. If you still get a stuck slide out, you can always do the old fashioned trick of manually strong arming it back into place. Of course, if you do this, it may pop back out on you as you drive.

Another trick you can do is use some slide out lubricant spray to make the slides move easier. Or you can check the motor for loose nuts and bolts or any lubricant leaks. Tighten those up and refill the lubricant and you should be good to go.

Finally, there may be a loose wire connection causing the problem. Just tighten it back up and your problem should be solved. Learn how your slide out mechanism works and you can find a way to manually slide it back in the next time it gets stuck.

How Long do RV Slides Last?

An RV slides should be designed and manufactured to last you a long time. There is no set time limit because of the many factors involved that can damage your slides or slide out.

If well taken care of, you should get a good decade of use out of them if not more. But that is merely an estimate. With windows, motors, gears, seals and so on, there is a lot that can go wrong and eventually damage your slides.

Another situation that may shorten the longevity of your RV slides is that they become misaligned and do not go in and out as smoothly as they should. Or there is something blocking their path making it hard to operate the slides.

These situations tend to ruin the slides a lot faster than they would normally through regular wear and tear. How you maintain them will depend on how long your slides will last for you.

RV Slides In or Out In a Storm

If you are unlucky enough to be in your RV during a storm, you will find that as long as you have great seals and no leaks, it won’t matter if your slides are in or out. If you want to protect your slide out from weather damage, then take no risks and pull your slide out back in.

Most RV owners feel that taking the slide out back in when a storm arrives is not necessary. Others do not like to take chances so they make sure their RV is as protected as it can be.

Dealers may say that it won’t matter which position your slide out is in when you encounter a wind storm. Some people have had their RVs blown off their blocks when they kept their slide outs open during a wind storm. The choice is yours to make

Your slide outs should be in if you have damaged or leaky seals. You do not want water getting inside your RV and causing more damage to your vehicle.

Are RV Slide Outs Worth it?

This is a question we asked earlier and you are the only one who can answer that question for you and your family. Keep in mind that slide outs are going to add weight. About 1,500 pounds give or take a hundred, to your RV. This will affect your fuel economy as well as make it more difficult going up mountains and large hills.

You also have to contend with the expense factor as you will have quite a few more parts to maintain and repair if anything goes wrong. Some RV owners would rather sacrifice space than pay those extra costs.

On the other hand, there are those RV owners who swear by slide outs and say they make a great positive contribution to their RV life. They feel the extra space is well worth the costs and the risks.

It may be worth your while to rent an RV with slide outs first, before you purchase one, and see if they meet with your approval. Getting a little first hand experience before you buy, is the smart way to make the right determination for you and your family.

Oh and one thing you should be aware of. Slide outs can add up to $12,000 to your purchase price. That is an important factor to consider before purchasing your next RV with slide outs.

The Pros and Cons of RV Slide Outs

Now that you have a lot more facts about RV slide outs, you need to learn a little bit about the pros and cons that are involved. Every item on this earth has pros and cons and slide outs are no different.

Here are those pros and cons to help you make a proper determination if they are worth it or not:


  • They add more space to your RV- you can get more comfortable, relaxed and lose stress because you have lots of space to maneuver
  • They are usually easy to operate- whether this be electric or hydraulic systems
  • You can accommodate more guests- the extra space allows you to have more family members or friends over and visit. Everyone can be comfortable and not feel cramped
  • You can customize your RV’s interior- by adding different furniture, etc,. you can make your RV look and feel like you were back home
  • Makes your bedroom larger- you get more space in your bedroom, allowing you to dress easier, and do other activities without banging your head, arms and legs on the walls.


  • Your insurance costs go up- because slide outs add more risks to your RV insurance companies are going to boost your premiums to cover for that extra risk
  • Can’t use them everywhere- there will be campsites, RV parks and other situations where your slide outs cannot work. There is just no space to allow you to extend them
  • Maintenance costs- even proper maintenance is going to cost you a little money. With slide outs you are adding to your maintenance duties and raising your maintenance expenses
  • Higher repair costs- if anything goes wrong with the slide outs, you will have to pay more in repairs than you may have figured on.
  • Higher purchase price- slide outs do add to the cost of your new RV. It is a fact of life and one you should be ready for when you see the sales bill

Some Final Words

Slide outs seem like a cool feature to have in your RV. They help you have more space, live more comfortably and let you entertain better. The ideal is makes slide outs look like a great addition to your RV.

Now that you have the facts on slide outs, you should be able to make that decision if they are worth the extra care and expense. If you are willing to put up with the risks, then slide outs are a good feature to have.

They do make your RV life a little better and come in handy when you have the room to extend them. That is the other factor you need to consider when buying an RV with slide outs. You have to check with the RV parks and camp grounds you intend to visit and see if there is enough room for you to extend your slide outs.

If not, then it may not be worth having them.

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